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Welcome Emails: How Do You Compare?

Posted on 3.17.2009

Email marketing and creative services agency Smith-Harmon announced last week the Retail Welcome Email Benchmark Study, which investigated email trends and best practices among the nation's top online retailers.

“The welcome email is probably the single greatest opportunity that email marketers have to engage subscribers and drive action,” says Lisa Harmon, co-founder and principal at Smith-Harmon. “Welcome messages generate superior open rates and, done well, create a halo effect that boosts subscribers’ engagement with subsequent promotional and trigger emails.”

Given the golden opportunity that welcome emails present marketers, it’s unfortunate that so many still let the moment pass—or bungle the interaction with uninspired messaging. After examining the welcome email practices of 112 of the largest online retailers, Smith-Harmon found that only 76% of them sent out welcome emails. While that’s up from 72% in 2007 and 66% in 2006, it’s disheartening that more companies aren’t seizing this key marketing moment.

- Text-only welcome emails are becoming increasingly antiquated. More than 89% of retailers sent HTML welcome emails, up from 78% in 2007 and 69% in 2006.
- The role that welcome emails can play in ensuring future deliverability of emails is growing. More than 68% of retailers used welcome emails to ask new subscribers to add the sender to their address book, up from about 62% in 2007 and 49% in 2006.
- The number of top online retailers making their emails CAN-SPAM compliant rose significantly. Nearly 71% included both an unsubscribe link and their mailing address, up from 58% in 2007 and 52% in 2006.
- While 15% of welcome emails include a forward-to-a-friend link, none of those studied included a share-with-your-network (SWYN) link. We expect many marketers to adopt SWYN this year, including adding it to their welcome emails.


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